Plan A is not working for scoring
Thus far in the 2015-16 NHL season, the Carolina Hurricanes are trying to hang in there but so far there has been more sinking than swimming. The Canes 6-9-0 record is actually 1 point less than the same point in 2014-15 when a 5-7-3 record was good for 13 points.
There is of course the possibility that improvement can come from the current roster, but I think it might also be time to look elsewhere before it is too late. The Canes biggest deficiency right now is a desperate need for more scoring both at even strength and on the power play.
The team is now 27th in terms of goals per game and also 27th in terms of power play proficiency. I count only 5 Canes forwards who are doing much of anything offensively – Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Kris Versteeg, Victor Rask and to Jeff Skinner (even he is borderline).
But Charlotte is scoring, so why not look there for help?
Meanwhile Charlotte is off to a good start offensively. The Checkers are being led scoring-wise at forward by Phil Di Giuseppe who has 4 goals and 6 assists in 12 games and Derek Ryan who has 7 goals and 2 assists also in 12 games. The duo are playing on the same line.
Why not bring both of Di Giuseppe and Ryan up to the NHL level, put a more experienced defensively capable player on right wing with them and see if they can bring their offense to the NHL level? What can it hurt at this point? It is not like the Canes are grinding out a bunch of 2-1 wins and risking anything. Riley Nash or Elias Lindholm would seem to fit the bill as a right wing who can help a bit defensively but also skate and contribute offensively.
I would actually try that experiment hoping that chemistry and confidence right now trumps the challenge of jumping to the NHL level. The alternative would be to bring up just 1 of the 2 for a trial.
In my more aggressive ‘go for it’ scenario, I think you make them the third line and maybe shield them a bit in terms of match ups and ice time. With a stretch of home games ahead, this should be possible at least short-term. The lines look something like:
EStaal – JStaal – Lindholm
Skinner – Rask – Versteeg
Di Giuseppe – Ryan – Nash
Gerbe – McClement – Nordstrom
Brock McGinn returning to Charlotte would make 1 roster spot. The team would need to make another by exposing 1 of Chris Terry, Brad Malone or Andrej Nestrasil to waivers and then paying them an NHL salary to play in Charlotte if he cleared. Another creative option would be to send Elias Lindholm temporarily to Charlotte. That seems an unlikely route, but is he really playing that much better than an AHL player right now?
Same rationale as Brett Pesce move
I honestly have no idea if this will work, but I justify this move very much the same way as my once radical idea to parachute Brett Pesce into the top 4 in the hole left when James Wisniewski was injured. Very simply, plan A was (Michal Jordan in that slot in the other case) was failing miserably, so at least try something different instead of just doing the same thing over and over if it is not working. Right?
Right now, the Canes power play is in shambles despite trying a bunch of combinations and having 4 days to work on it last week. Right now, the Canes are not getting nearly enough goal scoring but are still running Nathan Gerbe and Chris Terry out as second-liners despite fourth line type production.
It is time to at least try something different to generate scoring. If you work from the assumption that GM Ron Francis will not open up the wallet and trade futures to add a veteran forward via trade, then this trying this at least beats repeatedly doing what is not working.
Other than not having anyone to put on injured reserve to make the roster numbers work, the timing is actually pretty good in that the Canes have a run of 5 home games that makes it a bit easier to pick and choose match ups.
Both Derek Ryan and Phil Di Giuseppe are playing well right now and should be confident. Both should be hungry to impress at the NHL level. Give them a shot!
Who thinks I’m crazy? Who thinks I am right? Who thinks there is at least a chance that I could be both crazy and right at the same time?